Shaw NCO awarded $10K for idea

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Williams
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A Shaw NCO is $10,000 richer thanks to a suggestion he made.

He thought it would be more economical to stop replacing an $8,500 valve on the F-16 Fighting Falcon every time the $50 heat shield that covers the valve is damaged. The suggestion was submitted through the Air Force’s Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program -- known as IDEA.

The valve, known as the high stage bleed air regulator and shut-off valve, is located on the lower left side of the F-16 behind the wing. It regulates the engine’s downstream pressure and prevents reverse pressure flow, said Master Sgt. Scott Laws, the assistant electrical environmental section chief with the 20th Component Maintenance Squadron.

Currently, during F-16 engine phase inspections, the valve will rub against the bulkhead next to the valve, Sergeant Laws said. This causes damage in the center of the safety wire studs in the heat shield. According to the technical order, there is no replacement for the heat shield.

To correct the problem, maintainers have to replace the whole valve assembly instead of just replacing the heat shield. The option to replace the heat shield is not currently listed in the technical order.

Sergeant Laws suggested changing the technical order to list the heat shield as a separate piece with its own part number. The heat shield is available for purchase from the same supplier as the valve assembly at a much lower cost.

“This is the first $10,000 payout at Shaw since the late ‘90s,” said Marylyn Huber, 20th Mission Support Squadron management analyst.

Sergeant Laws said the benefits would result in immediate savings to the Air Force. Last year, Shaw replaced 11 valves and could have saved more than $91,000 by replacing the heat shield alone.

The change has not been made to the technical order yet. When it is changed, every Air Force base that flies the F-16 will benefit, Mrs. Huber said.

“So far, the projected savings is $320,000 for the Air Force the first year alone,” Sergeant Laws said.

This is the fourth idea suggested by Sergeant Laws. Two were approved and he received awards of $200 for each. This time, he was awarded the maximum of $10,000.

“I’m always looking for ways to improve the way we do things,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why can’t we just replace the heat shield?’”

“Every Airman should follow Sergeant Laws’ example. I encourage everyone to look around their shops and the way they accomplish their mission. If there is a way to improve a process or product, make the suggestion. The Air Force is constantly changing for the better thanks to people like Sergeant Laws,” said Col. Bill Hyatt, 20th Fighter Wing commander.